How should a B2B lead generation team be organised? What tasks need to be completed? What can be covered in house and what should be outsourced?
The first step is to identify precisely what is (and what is not) a lead. Next, decide how far marketing nurture leads and when they should be passed to sales. This should be agreed between sales and marketing at an early stage to prevent problems later.
Defining Lead Generation Responsibilities
Strong management of the sales and marketing operation is needed to ensure leads are acted upon and not routinely discarded. Some sales people will tend to fall back on their long established relationships with a small group of key customers rather than chasing down new leads.
Marketing needs to understand there is little point sales wasting time chasing down sales leads that are not qualified. The right type of lead, addressed at the right time, at the right point in the sales process has the best chance of conversion.
A situation can easily arise where sales and marketing effectively work against each other. It is a fact (often ignored) that internal company politics can have a significant impact on business performance.
Marketing may blame sales for ignoring the larger picture in the pursuit of short term opportunities. They may despair at salespeople who claim the reason for poor sales performance is the competitions superior product, or pricing or promotional spend. Sales may claim that marketing is remote from the customer and market and fail to support their everyday needs.
Marketing and sales should work in harmony. Marketing must be responsible for generating a sufficient quantity of the right type of quality sales leads. It is then sales responsibility for taking those leads to a successful conclusion with the support of marketing where needed. Sales should predict potential road-blocks that could derail the sales process and work with marketing to address those road-blocks in good time.
Choosing Lead Generation Tactics
With responsibilities defined the next step is to decide what tactics, both online and offline, will be used to generate leads. Wherever possible that decision should be based on solid analysis of what has worked well (and not) in the past.
Whatever tactics are part of the lead generation process it is probable content will be the fuel for that process. Content should build credibility and deliver the information the customer decision making team needs to progress their purchasing decision. It should help the customer to deal with the problems they face.
The sales department is crucial to success. They are best placed to identify what information is required by customers and prospects and at what point in the process. They will also have an important view on the best delivery methods and how to engage.
An experienced editor in chief (be they in house or external) is important to undercover and modify existing sources of content, combine them with new content and deliver consistently against the content marketing plan.
Of course, content is only part of the mix. It must be delivered to the customer at the most appropriate point in time. A wide range of marketing techniques are available. The challenge is to select those that are most effective. A marketing team can then be built with the required skill set.
In House Team vs Outsourced
If the in house marketing department is inexperienced in inbound marketing, external short term support in the form of a mentor or outsourced marketing department can help. Often, external support or guidance may help in building the all important inbound marketing strategy and plan.
Ultimately nobody can know the customer, competitors and the market better than an in house team. That said an outsourced team can provide support until the in house team is fully up to speed. They may then be brought back in to respond to any peak in demand for marketing support that overloads in house resources.
Without a solid strategy whatever tactics are employed are likely to fail. Without the right team and (crucially) the right team dynamics achieving lead generation goals will be difficult. Taking a tactics first approach is not the best way forward. Decide what is needed, build the team and work away from there.